The best techno DJ in 2002, in 2006 and in 2008 according to DJ Awards. 3rd world’s best DJ according to the Resident Advisor Poll in 2013., 13th according to the Poll in 2014. and 21st according to the Poll in 2015. Won the UK AIM (Association of Independent Music) award for outstanding contribution in 2014. Received an Honorary Doctorate from the University of Huddersfield in 2015, in recognition of his outstanding contribution to the world of music technology. His everlasting creativity makes him truly inspiring, which is why he remains on the top year after year.
This 45-year old DJ, producer, and a record label owner was an influential part of Detroit’s techno scene in the early 1990s and a leader in minimal techno since the mid-1990s. More than 25 years since this English-born Canadian first crossed the border from Windsor to Detroit, he remains one of the scene’s most inspiring figures creating a very recognizable minimal yet danceable sound.
Since he was a kid, Richie was highly exposed to a lot of factors that formed his recognizable sound – the sound of the future. His father worked as a robotics technician at General Motors and was an electronic music fan, introducing his son to the sound of Kraftwerk and Tangerine Dream. He started DJing at underground parties in clubs like The Shelter in Detroit, where he met his partner John Acquaviva with whom he launched the +8 Recordings label. Moreover, his brother is a visual artist and an ambient DJ which also left a mark on his career.
Plastikman is Richie’s main recording identity. It’s a project that creates intriguing, minimalist techno with a lean beat and spare acid-sounding synth. The Plastikman project debuted in 1993 with two releases for +8: the “Spastik” single and the “Sheet One” album. “Sheet One” was reissued in 1994 as “Recycled Plastik”, followed by another Plastikman LP: “Musik”. Much more restrained than “Sheet One”, the album fit in well with the growing ambient-techno movement, where he joined ambient-techno heroes as the Aphex Twin or Black Dog. In early 1998, Richie released “Consumed” LP, where he continued in the experimentalist direction of intelligent techno. The year 2003 saw the release of Plastikman’s full-length “Closer” – the first album to feature Richie’s vocals prominently in the mix. “Arkives” (1993 – 2010) is an extensive collection of the complete Plastikman discography and lots of unreleased material that was released in 2011. In 2013 Richie performed around a specially constructed LED obelisk at New York’s Guggenheim Museum for their annual fundraiser and the experience inspired him to complete work on a new Plastikman album. The quickly realized “Ex” was released June 2014.
At timewarp on March 27th, 2010 Richie launched the first in a series of hand-picked dates that form the first ever Plastikman Live world tour. His live electronic performance incorporates art visual architecture and interactive technology by exploring the connection between the visual and the audio.
In 2012 Richie presents ENTER. – a point of entry into new experiences at Space in Ibiza. ENTER. is a concept consisting of five specially designed all-night dancing rooms and a wide array of electronic music. Due to Richie’s love of sake and Japanese culture ENTER. also has a sake bar that sells its own brand of sake. The concept is based on the following principles: MUSIC with lighting installations and technologies, a first true SAKE bar experience with surprise pre-parties in the actual club, TECHNOLOGY – each room has interactive installations and EXPERIENCE where music, technology and ideas interplay to create unique and wonderful new worlds. Richie brings the best DJs to ENTER.’s dancefloor: Sven Väth, Seth Troxler, Maceo Plex, Paco Osuna, Tale Of Us, Dubfire, Dixon, tINI, Maya Jane Coles, Luciano, Recondite, Gaiser, etc. are just some of the names that were a part of ENTER.
Richie is also involved in an initiative that aims to improve living conditions in disadvantaged areas of the world, using music as its main channel. A program called Bridges For Music was launched in South Africa in February 2013, with the participation of Skrillex, Richie and Luciano. The American, Canadian and Chilean spent two months in the communities of Soweto (Johannesburg) and Langa (Cape Town), to organize events and free workshops they ran with local musicians and DJs including Black Coffee, Vinny da Vinci and Niskerone. Bridges For Music continues its work in other communities in Africa, Asia and Latin America with a mission of enhancing the opportunities to earn a better life through music, inspiring the younger generations, connecting the disadvantaged areas and its talent with the world, raising awareness through music and gathering people from different communities through music.
In December 2015 Richie released a fifteen-track LP called “From My Mind To Yours” in order to celebrate the anniversary of his record label +8, which he started 25 years ago with John Acquaviva. The album consists of all new tracks from his various aliases such as Plastikman, F.U.S.E., Robotman, R.H.X., and Circuit Breaker.
The idea behind this album was to keep the original vision of +8 as well as to release new forward-thinking music. Truth be told, it is one hell of a mission to save the original vision yet to present a new sound, which is why the album has been criticized quite a bit, even though the sound is proper and distinctive for +8.
Richie Hawtin has been criticized a lot for the directions he has chosen, for the moves he has made in his career and for the sound he produces – which some find recycled. However, considering the spectrum of his achievements, the huge influence he has in the electronic music industry and considering how active he is in all of the areas of the industry he has deserved to stay on the top year after year. Richie Hawtin is surely one of those artists whose visions, ideas and actions revolutionized the electronic music world, whether people agree with them or not.
Watch the Slices documentary about Hawtin